Monthly Archives: December 2014

Wage Theft Prevention annual notice requirement repealed

The Wage Theft Prevention Act, which has been a burr under the saddle of New York businesses since it took effect in 2011, is getting a major overhaul.

The act required every private employer in New York to provide workers a document verifying their salaries and other basic information, which employees were then to sign and return. And since its birth, the act has been the target of lobbying by business organizations looking to eliminate the paperwork requirement.

“All private sector employers in New York will get welcome relief under the “wage theft” reform bill signed by Governor Cuomo,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president of The Business Council of New York State.

“Our members saw this as a costly and unnecessary compliance burden that provided no real benefit to workers, and fixing it has been one of our legislative priorities,” Pokalsky added.

“As part of this reform bill, we also supported Labor Law changes to help protect employees through improved wage law compliance and enhanced enforcement in cases of wage theft.”

Importantly, the Administration made clear that the Department of Labor will not require annual notices in 2015, citing an agreement with the legislature to move up the reform’s effective date.

Employers still will have to provide a written pay notice at the time a new worker is hired.

Governor backs Southern Tier casino, asks for reopened bidding

Saying the Southern Tier could benefit greatly from new jobs and economic development, Governor Cuomo is urging the state Gaming Commission to reopen bidding for a casino in the Southern Tier.

Gannett Albany Bureau Chief Joe Spector first reported the letter to the commission and the casino siting board late Friday. In the letter, Cuomo said the officials should start a process to accept new applications for the fourth and final casino license in the “true Southern Tier” after the region was passed over Dec. 17 for a facility in the Finger Lakes.

“Indeed, as this would be the last license issued in New York state, it may excite national competition by interested parties that submit even better applications than the first round,” Cuomo wrote.

“If you agree to this request, the (casino board) should quickly establish a process for the fourth license that could be complete as expeditiously as possible, as the Southern Tier needs jobs and investment now,” Cuomo wrote in the letter.

Cuomo’s letter comes after increased pressure from local leaders after two casino applicants in the Southern Tier — Tioga Downs in Nichols and Traditions resort in the Town of Union, Broome County — lost to a casino proposal in Tyre, Seneca County, more than one hour away.

Read the full article from the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

New York ranked first in Northeast for attracting international students

New York State ranked first in the Northeast region and second in the nation in attracting international students to our colleges and universities, according to the “Open Doors Report” for 2014 released today by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

According to the report, New York State welcomed 98,906 international students in 2013-14, a 12.1 percent increase from the previous year, compared to the national increase of 8.1 percent. International students and their families contributed $3.3 billion to New York State’s economy, and created or supported 40,331 net jobs.

Further details from the Open Doors report may be found on the IIE website: http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors.

The leading five countries sending the most students to New York State include (first) China, (second) India, (third) South Korea, (fourth) Canada and (fifth) Taiwan.

The Business Community Calls for an Extension of the Brownfield Program

Today, The Business Council of New York State was joined by nearly 30 other chambers of commerce and business organizations from across the state in calling on Governor Cuomo to sign into law legislation to extend the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) through to March 31, 2017.

Without a timely extension prior to the close of 2014, the uncertainty surrounding the program seriously jeopardizes hundreds of millions of dollars in new development projects that will spur further economic development.

The letter also states, “The BCP is the single most effective tool in stimulating economic growth and the redevelopment of contaminated, post-industrial lands across the state. The program effectively facilitates the redevelopment of former industrial lands prevalent throughout our communities, by making projects with exorbitant remediation costs financially feasible. The BCP has leveraged more than 21,000 new jobs and nearly $7 billion in development, across almost 100 projects since the program’s inception. Every one dollar of BCP credits issued results in nearly $10 of new investment throughout the state. Without an extension before the end of this year, New York State immediately becomes a less attractive place to do business.

“We cannot wait until 2015; it is critical that we extend the program now. The average BCP project takes 2.8 years from application to completion. With the program currently scheduled to sunset in December 2015 new projects are already out of time. The extension passed in the New York State Senate and Assembly offer a needed reprieve, while a long-term extension of the program is negotiated.

“The BCP works. It leverages new development, remediates environmental contamination, eliminates blighted properties and encourages growth in sustainable locations.
“The listed coalition broadly supports legislative item A.10135/S.7878, extension of the Brownfield Cleanup Program and requests that it be signed into law.”

– Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

– Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber

– Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

– Associated General Contractors of New York State, LLC

– The Buffalo Niagara Partnership

-The Business Council of Westchester

– Canandaigua (NY) Chamber of Commerce

– Center State Corporation for Economic Opportunity

-The Chamber of Schenectady County

-The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County

-The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce

– Chemung County Chamber of Commerce

– Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce

-The Long Island Association

– Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce

– Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce

– Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

– Manufacturers’ Association of Central New York

– Niagara USA Chamber

– New York State Association for Affordable Housing

– New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance

– NYS Economic Development Council

– Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce

– Rochester Business Alliance,

– Rockland Business Association,

– Tompkins County Chamber

– Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism

– Unshackle Upstate

Interested in Exporting to Mexico? Empire State Development Trade Mission March 1-7, 2015

Empire State Development, in partnership with the Council of Great Lakes Governors, is leading a multi-sector trade mission to Mexico, from March 1-7, 2015, for New York State companies interested in exporting to Mexico. Registration is required by January 15. Travel and lodging costs may be reimbursed under ESD’s SBA STEP grant.

Mexico has a population of 120 million people and offers a large market with a GDP of approximately $1.8 trillion. Mexico accounts for about one-eighth of all U.S. exports. This year, New York businesses have exported more than $2 billion in goods and services to Mexico.

Learn more about the Mexico trade mission here and about other upcoming ESD trade missions and shows here.

A one-two punch for the Southern Tier

Officials in the Southern Tier expressed disappointment over the ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing and the state Gaming Commission Sighting Board’s decision to turn down two proposals for licenses, one in the Binghamton area and another in Tioga County.

Speaking with Gannett reporter Jon Campbell, Senate Deputy Republican Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton said the “disappointment looms very heavy.”

“This is devastating to our region, a region that has been struggling day in and day out,” he said. “And then to add on top of that the decision not to move forward with fracking this morning was another blow to the Southern Tier.”

Before the casino decision was announced, Governor Cuomo said it was a “legitimate question” to ask what the state can do to help jump start the Binghamton and Elmira economies, which have regularly trailed other areas of the state in job growth in recent years. Binghamton lost 300 jobs between October 2013 and October 2014, while Elmira added just 300, according to the state Department of Labor.

Cuomo said the state’s challenge is to make sure that the region has the economic incentive to thrive, without fracking or a casino. He said supporters of fracking have often asked him the question: “If not this, then what?”

“They need jobs, and they need income, and what’s the alternative to fracking?” Cuomo told reporters. “And I think that’s a very good question, and I think it’s our responsibility to develop an alternative for that community for safe, clean economic development.”

Rebuild New York Now campaigns for infrastructure awareness

Rebuild New York Now, a broad-based coalition, which includes The Business Council, is seeking to raise public awareness about the issues impacting New York State’s infrastructure. The coalition has released television and radio advertisements entitled “Tipping Point” as part of an overall media campaign that will run statewide and highlight New York’s infrastructure crisis.

The 30-second TV and 60-second radio spots were released at an Albany press conference along with local elected officials, members of organized labor and private businesses. This diverse coalition stood together to highlight the state of disrepair of New York State’s infrastructure and call for a renewed commitment to infrastructure investment.

You can watch “Tipping Point” TV here and listen to “Tipping Point” Radio here. Scripts can be found below.

“Tipping Point” TV Script:

New York is facing a crisis. Transportation systems are falling apart. Another harsh winter is here. New York drivers are dodging pot holes if they’re lucky, facing expensive repairs if they’re not. We’re sending our children to school on poor roads. Fixing our infrastructure will create tens of thousands of jobs, protect our families and revitalize New York. Visit rebuild New York now dot org. Learn how we can fix New York’s infrastructure crisis.

“Tipping Point” Radio Script:

New York is facing a crisis. Transportation systems are falling apart. Another harsh winter is here. New York drivers are dodging pot holes if they’re lucky, and facing expensive repairs if they’re not. Even worse, we’re sending our children to school on these poor roads and bridges every day. It’s dangerous. Unacceptable. And, needs to change. New Yorkers are demanding real infrastructure investment that protects our families and revitalizes our state. And, studies show that for every billion spent on infrastructure repair over 28,000 jobs are created. That’s 28,000 good paying jobs to stimulate New York’s economy. And build safer roads and bridges for you and your family. Jobs. Safety. Infrastructure. Visit rebuild N Y now dot org and learn how we can fix New York’s infrastructure crisis.
Paid for by Rebuild New York Now.

For information on Rebuild New York Now and the campaign please click here.

Statement on Education Commissioner John King’s resignation

“The Business Council thanks John King for his service and dedication to all of New York’s students, and for his courage in challenging the status quo. Change is never easy, but change is what is needed so that our public schools uphold high educational standards. Commissioner King understands how important it is for New York schools to provide all students with an education that ensures they can compete in the global economy.

“The Business Council urges the Board of Regents to select a Commissioner of Education who will carry forward John King’s progress and focus on high academic standards, accountability and providing choices that meet the needs of all students.”

Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO, The Business Council of New York State

The Business Council of Westchester hosts forum on business engagement in education

The Business Council of Westchester, in partnership with the Public Policy Institute of New York State (PPI) and the Committee for Economic Development (CED), hosted a forum on Wednesday, Dec. 10 on the state’s new K-12 education standards and the role that businesses can play to support them.

Dr. Salvador Fernandez, executive director of the School of Achievement, New York City Department of Education, provided an educator’s perspective on the new college- and career-ready standards. Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, and Allison Armour-Garb, an education consultant for PPI, spoke about how the employer community can support the standards’ implementation to help cultivate a globally competitive workforce and provide an overview of the standards’ development, respectively.

“For most businesses as well as schools, having an objective way to determine progress isn’t radical or earth-shattering — it’s standard operating procedure,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. “We need such practices, and our children deserve no less. These assessments should be seen as a positive tool to ensure our students have developed the foundational knowledge and skills they will need for college and the workforce.”

“The economic imperative for attaining higher education has never been greater, but too many students throughout New York and the nation remain unprepared,” said Michael Petro, Executive Vice President at CED. “Implementing these high-quality K-12 standards will put students on a pathway to flourish in both college and their careers.”

“Businesses across the state rely on the education system to prepare students for careers in the 21st century economy. Unfortunately, as evident by the growing skills gap, there is a disconnect between what students are learning in school and what they need to know to succeed in the work world,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council. “Innovative partnerships like the New York State Pathways in Technology Early High School program and preservation of the Common Core standards are crucial in helping students develop skills with real-world applicability.”

About the Committee for Economic Development
The Committee for Economic Development (CED) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization that delivers well-researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues. CED’s work centers on the pursuit of seven core principles: sustainable capitalism, long-term economic growth, efficient fiscal & regulatory policy, competitive & open markets, globally competitive workforce, equal economic opportunity, and non-partisanship in the nation’s interest. CED’s research falls under four issue areas: fiscal health, education, global competitiveness, and democratic institutions. Learn more about CED at www.ced.org, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Another Voice: Lift the state’s moratorium on fracking

In a Buffalo News Op-Ed, Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corp., and author of “The Fracking Truth, ” urges the Cuomo administration to lift the state’s now six-year-old moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

In the Op-Ed, Faulker writes, “Job growth must be Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top priority over the next four years. New York’s unemployment rate is still well above 6 percent. Over half a million state residents are out of work.

“The governor’s best option for revitalizing the local job market is clear: rescind the moratorium on fracking. Driven by activist hysteria, then-Gov. David A. Paterson prohibited the practice in 2010.

“That hysteria has since been firmly refuted by science. Fracking poses virtually zero risk to the environment. And allowing oil and gas drillers to get back to work will stir robust job creation throughout the state.

“Fracking uses highly pressurized mixtures of water and sand, along with very small amounts of certain chemicals, to capture oil and natural gas embedded in underground rock formations. Green activists worry fracking contaminates the drinking water near drill sites. That claim has been heavily studied and revealed as baseless. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never reported a case of fracking causing groundwater contamination.

“Meanwhile, the economic benefits of fracking are very real.

“Fracking operations already support 2 million jobs nationwide and add nearly $300 billion to the U.S. economy every year.

“New York’s southern neighbor, Pennsylvania, is a major beneficiary of fracking’s economic rewards. More than 200,000 Pennsylvania jobs are tied to oil and gas extraction. And these are exactly the kind of positions New York legislators are looking to cultivate locally, paying, on average, about $62,000 per year.

“The switch to natural gas can make a huge impact on citizens’ health. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection estimates that the state and its residents have saved up to $37 billion in reduced health care costs as a result of better air quality.

“Soon enough, lifting New York’s fracking moratorium won’t just be good policy – it will be a political imperative. The public is catching on to the fact that new fracking means new jobs.

“New York voters just overwhelmingly re-elected Cuomo. He should repay that support by taking action guaranteed to boost their job prospects. Lifting the fracking moratorium would do wonders for New York’s economy.”